What services interest me?


What I want the service to offer

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There are many different ways that treatment services are offered. Take a look at what might be right for you. In this section, service providers like “therapist” and “counsellor” are mentioned. See People who I want support from to learn more about their roles.

“One of my barriers as a youth is finding what type of services are available. In my first year of accessing services, I only really knew about the psychiatrist and group therapy. However, I learned about the different types of group therapy, peer support, and support groups. Learning about DBT (dialectical behavioural therapy) was very beneficial to me".
—Anonymous, youth advisor

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Therapy can help people with mental health and substance use challenges. Therapy gives you a space to express your feelings and understand more about the issues you are facing. There are many types of therapies, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT), mindfulness-based therapy and trauma-informed therapy. It might be helpful to learn more about what type of therapy your service provider offers or which type you feel would work best for you. If you start using one and find that it’s not right for you, you might consider exploring other options, too.

Some questions to ask your therapist may include:

  • What type of therapy do you provide?
  • How does the type of therapy you use work?
  • Tell me about the experiences that you have had working with young people.

See People who I want support from to learn more about different service providers who provide therapy.

One-on-one counselling is exactly what it sounds like: face-to-face sessions with a therapist (or another type of service provider). This type of counselling allows for you to receive one-on-one attention from the therapist, which helps the therapist gain a deeper understanding of your concerns and struggles. When the therapist is able to understand you better, they can also have a better idea of what treatments and services would be beneficial for you (see Therapy section above)

Group counselling is led by a counsellor and takes place with other individuals who are struggling with similar challenges. It can offer a feeling of community and help you realize that you are not the only one having a hard time.

Peer support offers assistance from youth who have had mental health and/or substance use experiences themselves. Peer support workers have had specific training and may be able to provide one-to-one support, facilitate groups, help connect you with other services and more. Peer support can be a service all on its own, or it might be part of a bigger program.

With peer support, you can talk to someone your age who has also gone through similar challenges as you have. For this reason, you may feel more comfortable with this person and this may be able to offer you a feeling of hope.

When you are struggling with something, it may also affect the people around you, like your family. Some organizations offer services for families, too. Support for family members can include education about mental health or substance use, learning skills to support you during treatment and resources and treatment for themselves as well.

There are lots of new options for mental health treatment and support. We’ve got mobile/tablet apps, text and internet chats or online video-based support. Ask the service how they offer their services. For many youth, the biggest concern with online support is privacy. You can try to make it more private by finding a quiet and safe space, wearing headphones or moving to a more private space (e.g., going for a walk outside or scheduling appointments when your family members will not be in the house).

Note: If a service offers online or texting support, you’ll probably want to find out how this is offered and what it involves. For example: care providers who text with their clients usually don’t respond immediately and often won’t respond on weekends—that’s important information to know.

It’s important to know that you may be able to get support at work or school if you are experiencing mental health challenges. These supports can make it more comfortable for you to work and/or study.

If you have a disability, you may also need other types of support, sometimes called accommodations, which can help you receive the treatment you need.

It’s always your choice if you want to tell people about anything you’re going through, like a health condition or disability. It can be helpful for a service provider to know so they can support you better.

If a service provider is unsure about how to support you, then you might want to give them some suggestions or find another service provider. If there is an advocacy agency that relates to your disability (e.g., Brain Injury Society of Toronto), they may know about the types of services in your community that can provide the best support.

A guide has been developed to help post-secondary students through the process of receiving academic accommodations for mental health challenges. You can find the guide online at https://brocku.ca/health-wellness-accessibility/wp-content/uploads/sites/194/English_Accessible_Guide_Accommodating-Students-Handbook_August-7-2015.pdf

If you’re having a hard time finding the right information and support, you may decide to advocate for yourself. Advocating for yourself can be scary, so we have included some tips and examples to help. Keep in mind that this is not a complete list of all experiences

2SLGBTQ+ stands for Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and Questioning. There are people with special knowledge and training about 2SLGBTQ+ issues who can support you if this is important to you. Try using 2SLGBTQ+ related keywords in your internet searches for a service provider or a service.

It can be helpful to tell someone at a doctor’s office or service agency that you want a service provider with 2SLGBTQ+ knowledge and training. It will help the agency match you with someone who can better understand your experiences.

If this is important to you, you may want to ask your service provider some (or all) of the following questions:

  • Do any of your staff have training on how to best help 2SLGBTQ+ people?
  • Do you know of any good online 2SLGBTQ+ resources or groups?
  • I’m interested in support groups that focus on 2SLGBTQ+ mental health/substance use. Would you be able to help me find groups like this?
  • Do you know of any other agencies that have services specially designed for 2SLGBTQ+ people?

Tips for talking about your gender and sexual orientation to your service provider

Opening up to a doctor or service provider about your personal thoughts and feelings is not easy for anyone. Being 2SLGBTQ+ can make it feel even harder.

You do not have to tell your service provider that you are 2SLGBTQ+, but if you do, they can help you find the right support.

  • Call the agency ahead of time. When you call to make an appointment, ask if the agency has any 2SLGBTQ+ patients or clients. If you’re nervous about asking, remember you don’t have to give them your name during the first call.
  • Bring a friend or family member. If you are feeling nervous about talking with your service provider, you can ask someone you trust, like a friend or family member, to come with you.
  • Tell your service provider your name and pronouns. “My name is _______and my pronouns are (him/her/they, etc.).

If you’re looking for religious/spiritual supports for mental health and substance use challenges, you may be able to find groups or individual services that focus on this.

If this is important to you, you may want to ask your service provider some (or all) of the following questions:

  • Do you offer faith/religious-based services?
  • Are there groups for people who share my religious/spiritual traditions?
  • Are you able to connect me with a health service provider, clergy person, priest, pastor, Elder, rabbi, imam, etc., from my religious/spiritual beliefs who can support me throughout my treatment?

Culture can play a huge role in people’s lives: it can shape our thoughts, our behaviours and our relationships. It can also play a key role in understanding the mental health and substance use challenges people experience and support they need to feel better. Examples of different cultures and experiences include Black, South Asian, Indigenous, refugee and newcomer youth. Because of this, some agencies offer culturally specific services and experiences.

There may be supports in your community that are made for a specific cultural or ethnic group. When searching for a service provider online, try using your own culture or ethnicity and related keywords.

It can be helpful to tell someone at a doctor’s office or service agency that you want a service provider with cultural knowledge and training. It will help the agency match you with someone who can better understand your experiences.

If this is important to you, you may want to ask your service provider some (or all) of the following questions:

  • My identity/background is important to me. Can this be incorporated into the support I receive?
  • What group programs or services are available for young people who share my cultural identity or ethnic background?
  • Are you able to connect me with a person from my cultural background who can support me throughout my treatment?


Autumn is an Indigenous youth who does not think their doctor understands how they feel. They would like to be supported by a service provider who is also Indigenous, as they may understand Autumn’s experiences better and may also be able to offer cultural supports, like Indigenous medicine and teachings, as part of Autumn’s treatment. Autumn asks their doctor to refer them to an Indigenous agency or service provider.


Sarina has recently moved to Canada. She is finding the move hard and is having trouble making friends. She asks her service provider if they could refer her to a Newcomer Youth program, where she may be able to meet other people her age who are going through similar experiences.

Since Canada is full of many different cultures, people speak a variety of languages. If you would prefer to receive services in a language other than English, you can tell your service provider. You can also ask for translation services.

If this is important to you, you may want to ask your service provider some (or all) of the following questions:

  • I’m more comfortable speaking in my first language. Are there services offered in this language?
  • Are there translation services?
  • I require a sign language interpreter who uses American Sign Language (ASL)/Langue des Signes Québécoise (LSQ).
  • Do you have these interpreters on site?
  • If not, how do I get my own interpreter?

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